Shalom Auslander, "Heimish Knows All"

The dog is disgusted by young Shlomo’s newfound interest in pleasuring himself.

(from Beware of God)

Although Auslander’s still kinda smug and stand-uppy, he uses repetition less like a crutch and more like a comforting literary device in this one. Also, he’s just tons funnier and more humane toward his characters. Still, I never felt like I was reading anything more than a book of silly stories and quips, informed by some rather interesting vignettes of Jewish perspective. Perhaps the tiny-ness of the book (4×6 inches, I think) lends itself to my disregarding this as a humorous trifle.

But I also read:
“Holocaust Tips For Kids”
Not really a short story in the conventionally accepted way, but quite effective at stirring up emotion. It’s a scary, heartwarming, scary again series of facts written down by a kid worried about being ready for a new holocaust, should one happen. You think, aw poor kid, he’s too young to know better. But seeds of uncertainty are planted throughout thanks to encyclopedia/trivia-style passages as to who didn’t help and who didn’t believe there was a problem during the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism throughout the years. Makes you think of the current state of affairs in this country, where huge groups of people are actually opposed to the separation of church and state. Maybe we are still so stupid, as a civilization, that something this horrible can happen again. Does that make sense? So, this was not a plot-driven character-driven story, but it was by far the most effective Auslander piece I’ve come across so far. When he turns it on (and turns off the schtick), he can be pretty impressive.

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